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Five Kerala women create history by taking up high-risk job of zookeepers

The five newly recruited women zookeepers with Puthur zoological park director R Kirthi. Image Credit: Special Arrangement

For the first time in the history of Kerala, five young women have shattered gender norms by becoming the first female animal keepers (zookeepers) of Kerala.

These women, who have studied upto graduation level, were selected from an overwhelming pool of 600 applicants who applied for the job of animal keepers at Puthur Zoological Park in Thrissur, one of the largest in Asia, which will be opened for the public in 2024.

R Kirthi, Director of Puthur Zoological Park, said these women have embarked on a high-risk career that was traditionally dominated by men. “They were selected purely on merit. We have selected 15 candidates from 600 applicants and these five women are among the selected. They love wild animals and are passionate about the job. Their achievement marks a significant milestone in the quest for gender equality,” Kirthi told “Open Digest“.

K N Neshitha, P C Sajeena, M R Shoby, Krishna K Chandran and C K Reshma, who come from diverse backgrounds and possess a deep love for wildlife, are now responsible for the care and well-being of a myriad of animals in the park as zookeepers.

From mighty lions to playful primates, they have to tend to the needs of creatures both big and small ensuring their habitats are maintained and their dietary and medical requirements are met. “We are currently training them by familiarising them with wild animals and so far they have been doing excellent job,” Kirthi added.

These women are undeterred and have taken up the job despite the inherent risks and challenges associated with it. They are being given training on the daily challenges of working with unpredictable animals, adapting to demanding schedules, and managing their physical and mental well-being.

“We never thought in our life that one day we will be taking care of wild animals which we have seen as visitors to a zoo. But now we are proud and happy. We have shown to the world that women are equally capable to do a high risk job of a male animal keeper,” said Reshma.  She said they have completed their first phase of training at Thrissur Zoo and

Thiruvananthapuram Zoo. “Within four to five days, we became familiar with all the animals. Our trainers taught us the procedures that need to be followed while mingling with animals like lions, tigers and leopards,” Reshma added.

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